Chapter XXV: The Hunter Lies In Wait
 

If ever there was an angry hunter, it was the one who had followed Lightfoot the Deer across the Big River. When he was ordered to get off the land where Lightfoot had climbed out, he got back into his boat, but he didn't row back to the other side. Instead, he rowed down the river, finally landing on the same side but on land which Lightfoot's friend did not own.

"When that Deer has become rested he'll become uneasy," thought the hunter. "He won't stay on that man's land. He'll start for the nearest woods. I'll go up there and wait for him. I'll get that Deer if only to spite that fellow back there who drove me off. Had it not been for him, I'd have that Deer right now. He was too tired to have gone far. He's got the handsomest pair of antlers I've seen for years. I can sell that head of his for a good price."

So the hunter tied his boat to a tree and once more climbed out. He climbed up the bank and studied the land. Across a wide meadow he could see a brushy old pasture and back of that some thick woods. He grinned.

"That's where that Deer will head for," he decided. "There isn't any other place for him to go. All I've got to do is be patient and wait."

So the hunter took his terrible gun and tramped across the meadow to the brush-grown pasture. There he hid among the bushes where he could peep out and watch the land of Lightfoot's friend. He was still angry because he had been prevented from shooting Lightfoot. At the same time he chuckled, because he thought himself very smart. Lightfoot couldn't possibly reach the shelter of the woods without giving him a shot, and he hadn't the least doubt that Lightfoot would start for the woods just as soon as he felt able to travel. So he made himself comfortable and prepared to wait the rest of the day, if necessary.

Now Lightfoot's friend who had driven the hunter off had seen him row down the river and he had guessed just what was in that hunter's mind. "We'll fool him," said he, chuckling to himself, as he walked back towards the shed where poor Lightfoot was resting.

He did not go too near Lightfoot, for he did not want to alarm him. He just kept within sight of Lightfoot, paying no attention to him but going about his work. You see, this man loved and understood the little people of the Green Forest and the Green Meadows, and he knew that there was no surer way of winning Lightfoot's confidence and trust than by appearing to take no notice of him. Lightfoot, watching him, understood. He knew that this man was a friend and would do him no harm. Little by little, the wonderful, blessed feeling of safety crept over Lightfoot. No hunter could harm him here.